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10 Things You Must Know Before Go to Russia
April 6, 2012 14:15


Russia is a great place to visit. There are plenty of things to do and plenty of spots to explore in this country. Don't judge Russia by stereotypes. Bears don't walk along the streets, there is no snow in summer and yes, we have McDonalds, Sturbacks and other American chains (we don't live on another planet). But there are some points you should remember while planning your trip.
 Here are several travel tips that will make your journey more comfortable and easy.

yrillic
Language is the first mystery for tourists coming to Russia. You will not understand a word without special preparation. There are not many signs with English translation (some cities don't have them at all), so it will be extremely difficult to navigate in the city without knowing Russian alphabet.

Advice: If you don't have time to learn to speak Russian, try to learn to read the most necessary words that can be useful like “exit”, “entrance”, “restaurant”, “pharmacy”, etc.
Buy a good dictionary with useful Russian words and phrases, which will help you to identify important places in the city, to read menu, to use public transport.
 

Transport
First of all, remember that Moscow is famous for its traffic jams (other cities are less congested). Besides, Russian public transport can be rather complicated for tourists and there are no information booths where you can get necessary instructions in English. Taxi service in Russia is also something that should be studied in advance, it is important to be careful when getting taxi.

Advice: Try not to drive during rush hours and to walk more so that to avoid jams and to explore the city in a better way. Learn about public transport in Russia while planning your trip. We have already written about the transport system in Moscow here. As for taxi services, we strongly recommend you to use the official ones. Don't get into cars of private transporters (they can sometimes use yellow table “taxi” to make it look similar to the official company), who are always waiting for passengers at railway stations and near airports. It is not guaranteed to be safe and drivers may try to overcharge foreigners. The best way is to order a car by phone – there are Russian taxi companies with English-speaking operators, for example, a high-quality and safe “Komandir” (tel. 9-888-888).
Read more about taxi in Russia here.
If you are interested in renting a car go to this link.

MoneyIt is important to know that Russian currency is rubles. You can bring any other currency (US dollars and Euros are preferable) and exchange it.

Advice: Credit cards are not accepted everywhere, so it is better to have some cash in your pocket. Change money in banks. The largest bank in Russia is Sberbank (), it has thousands of branches in Russian cities. The brand color of the company is green.
 

Weather
Russian weather is very changeable, it can be raining in winter or snowing in spring. Even residents often don't know what to expect from our climate and it is possibly true that the most difficult profession in Russia is weather forecaster.

Advice: Take the appropriate clothing, shoes and an umbrella. Regardless of what part of Russia you are going to visit, it is better to take with you some warm clothes, as it can be cool even in summer.

 






Food

You can meet a big amount of various cafes and restaurants in Russia including popular American chains. The cuisine differs much especially in big cities like Moscow and St. Petesburg – Japanese, Mexican, Italian, etc. There are also places, where you can taste traditional Russian food.

Advice: Don't eat fast food. To experience Russian culture, we recommend you to try Russian national dishes and drinks.
There are several chains of cheap cafes like “Yolki-Palki” (Cyrillic spelling: “-“) or “Moo-Moo” (Cyrillic spelling: “-“), where it is possible to taste Russian traditional salads (vinegret, seld pod shuboy also known as “dressed herring”), soups (borsch, okroshka), blini (Russian pancakes), pelmeni, kotlety and famous drinks like kvass, kisel. Here you will enjoy good value meal. “Yolki-Palki” is also famous for its great all-you-can-eat buffet.
To learn more about Russian cuisine, see our section dedicated to it.

Queueing
Russian people are impatient while standing in a line. There are always someone who tries to jump the queue and to get through the crowd. You can sometimes see people quarrelling and shouting at each other because they don't want to wait. Don't expect to see a queue at metro stations, here it will be one big crowd.

Advice: Don't be shocked at Russian queues. People are standing close to each other (especially in metro) without letting any personal space. Try to avoid rush hours.
 

Sightseeing
Russia is much more than several well-known spots like the Kremlin, the Tretyakov Gallery and others. There are plenty of spots less known to tourists, but worth seeing.

Advice: Visit several attractive places that are not included in your guidebook. For example, Moscow has such unusual museums like the Museum of Vodka, the Museum of Russian Toy, Felt Boots Museum, Ice Sculpture Museum (open all year round), the Museum of Furniture, Moscow Metro Museum, the Museum “Lights of Moscow” and many others, not every Muscovite knows about them.
If the weather is fine, try to walk more, feel the atmosphere of the city. Look for interesting sculptures hidden in parks, lanes and boulevards. We have already observed the most interesting Moscow monuments dedicated to love, animals, different professions, famous Asian people, etc. We also wrote about the unique monuments in Yekaterinburg.
Soak up Russian culture and discover new things while strolling through the streets and browsing the city. It can be much better experience, than crowding with tourists in a pompous gallery.
To find places to visit, check our column “City Hunter” dedicated to the most attractive spots in Moscow and other cities.

Prices
Prices in Moscow are high and they can be higher if you are a foreigner. Unfortunately, some museums still offer separate prices for locals and tourists (as you understand, tourists are required to pay more).

Advice: Usually, different prices is a practice in such famous places as the Tretyakov Gallery, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, etc.
You can visit smaller museums that are not so big and popular. For example, the Museum of S. A. Esenin, the Museum of Unique Dolls and some others, that are also very interesting, have low price and offer audio guides in different languages.
Visit parks, churches and monasteries, you will not be required to pay for entrance (or it can be a symbolic price in some parks).
Don't buy anything in the centre, it can be really expensive. The Red Square and the Old Arbat Street are the most popular tourist places with expensive souvenirs. Visit the Vernissage in Izmailovo, there is a big number of souvenirs and it is possible to argue the price down.
You can also use our service to purchase some handicraft items online.

Safety
It is important not to forget about your safety. Crimes occur in Russia like in any other country in the world. A foreigner can be an easy victim, because he doesn't know much about the country, its people and the most dangerous districts. So always follow the safety rules.

Advice: Keep your documents with you while traveling (make photocopy of passport). You can be stopped by police and the absence of documents can be a reason to arrest you.
Keep your cash, credit cards and other valuables in a safe place. Don't talk about how much money you have with you, don't flash your cash. Pickpocketing is widespread, so keep money and documents closer to your body. We also don't recommend you to bring expensive cameras on your neck.
Take care of yourself and those who are with you.
The important numbers to know: Russian police – 02, Russian ambulance – 03.
Be careful when crossing roads! Try to use underpasses. Don't expect drivers to stop for pedestrians at any place.

Water and Electricity
We never drink tapwater, it can be dangerous and may cause deseases.
Electricity throughout Russia is 220V. The plug is the two-pin thin European standard.

Advice: Don't drink the tapwater! Buy water in bottles.
Bring an adapter with you if you need it.

 

 

 

 
Natalia Semicheva
.

Image courtesy: www.freshandhealth.com, www.worldlanguage.com, www.pragueconvention.cz, www.byztex.blogspot.com, mota.ru,  Yakimanka, www.primmarketing.ru, www.oko-planet.su, www.tripcrazed.com, Quench, Wikitravel.
  


Author: Natalia Semicheva

Tags: Russian tourism travel Russian cities tourist information  

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